Is a baby-led weaning approach on your radar? If so, you may have seen pictures of adorable babies munching on steak fingers. Yes, it’s true, steak fingers are a popular first food amongst baby-led weaning families, and with good reason. Beef is packed with zinc, iron, and selenium all of which are essential nutrients for infants, making it a top first food amongst nutrition professionals. Whether you choose a baby-led weaning approach or a more traditional approach to infant feeding, steak fingers can be a great addition once finger foods cross your baby’s plate.
Beef is loaded with nutrition that is essential for infants and it’s a great option for meat-eating families. Six-month-old infants may only suck on a steak finger or eat about a tablespoon of ground meat, but that bite packs a powerful punch in the nutrition score card. Beef has ten key nutrients that are worthy of showcasing:
- Iron: Helps carry oxygen throughout the body
- Choline: Supports a developing nervous system
- Selenium: Antioxidant protecting cells from damage
- Zinc: Helps boost immune systems
- Protein: Helps preserve and build muscle
- Phosphorous: Building of bones and teeth
- Riboflavin: Helps convert food into energy
- Vitamins B6 and B12: Helps brain functions
As much as we love quinoa or black beans, it would require a far greater amount for a baby to get the same nutritional benefits. But please feel free to pair up a steak dinner with a quinoa and black bean salad.
Beef up finger foods
There are a couple ways to serve up beef beyond the pureed spoon. A steak finger, served up as 1-inch by 3-inch is a great size for a newly eating baby to hold. Early on, babies don’t have a refined pincer grasp and use their palm to hold onto objects. Babies progressing in skill will soon get their pincer grasp, which is when tiny bite-sized pieces can be served up. In addition to steak, ground beef can be easily formed into comparable sized fingers, perhaps when hamburgers are on the family’s meal plan. But if a steak finger doesn’t fall on your radar don’t pass up spaghetti sauce with ground beef or shepherd’s pie for baby. Here’s a simple recipe for a Mediterranean-inspired steak to try out with your family.
Bruschetta topped balsamic steak
1 pound sirloin steaks (about 1-inch thick)
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 Tablespoons onion or shallot, minced
2 medium tomatoes, seeds removed and diced
6 leaves basil, thinly sliced
- In a shallow dish, mix together steaks, balsamic vinegar, garlic, 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper. Marinate steaks for 1-hour.
- Mix together the bruschetta topping, remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, onion, tomatoes, and basil and set aside.
- Preheat grill over medium-high heat for 10 minutes. Grill steaks for 6 to 8 minutes per side or until desired doneness, 145-degrees internal temperature is medium-rare and 160-degrees is medium.
- Allow steaks to rest off of the heat for 5-minutes before slicing. Slice into thin strips and serve with the bruschetta over the top.
Beginners: Serve up 1 steak finger with a skinless tomato, thinly sliced (just 1 piece to start)
Novice eaters: Serve up 1 steak finger with 1 to 2 thinly sliced tomato wedges on the side and bruschetta mixture on a infant spoon (often referred to as a loaded spoon)
Advanced eaters: Serve up small, baby-bite-sized pieces of grilled steak with bruschetta mixture over top or on the side based on toddler’s preference
On a side note, omit salt in the bruschetta if desired. Please feel free to salt the adult portion, but it is recommended that salt be omitted from infant foods. You can decide to omit it from the marinade, as well if desired.